The Tiny house Blog

Ohio's Tiny Home Rules & Regulations

Updated on:
July 3, 2023
Ohio's Tiny Home Rules & Regulations

Are you considering joining the tiny house movement in Ohio? 

Whether you're a potential homeowner, an enthusiast of the minimalist lifestyle, or simply curious about the regulations surrounding tiny homes in the state. 

It's crucial to have a solid understanding of Ohio's tiny home rules and regulations so that you make informed decisions and navigate the process more effectively. 

In Ohio, there is a lack of clarity on what qualifies as a tiny home. However, the standard size for a house to be classified as a tiny home in the US is under 400 square feet. 

In this article, we'll address various topics related to tiny homes in Ohio, including their legality, permitted types of tiny houses, compliance with building codes, counties that allow tiny houses, minimum size requirements, suitable locations for building or parking, and the existence of tiny home communities in the state.

Let’s delve in!

Are tiny houses legal in Ohio?

The legality of tiny houses in Ohio is not straightforward.  While tiny homes are not explicitly outlawed, the existing building regulations present challenges for those aspiring to live in compact dwellings.

The state's building code, established in 2017 and based on the 2015 edition of the International Building Code (IBC), lacks the specific provisions found in the 2018 version that caters to tiny homes.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for tiny house enthusiasts, particularly those opting for mobile dwellings on wheels. 

What kind of tiny houses are permitted in Ohio?

When it comes to tiny house-building laws, Ohio is one of the stricter states. 

However, just because zoning and building laws are more stringent, it does not preclude you from designing and building the tiny house of your dreams!

In Ohio, you will find companies building permanent structures, temporary tiny houses, and transitional structures for people looking to embrace minimalist living. Note that each of these tiny structures is subject to varying regulations.

What does a tiny house need to be up to Ohio building codes?

Tiny house Ohio building codes
View The Point by Modern Tiny Living

Under the Ohio building code, a minimum size requirement of 950 square feet is imposed, which deviates significantly from the typical dimensions of tiny houses. 

Rules for permanent structures

When building a permanent tiny house in Ohio, it's essential to consult the state's building codes. 

These codes outline specifications for foundations, structural integrity, insulation, electrical and plumbing systems, safety features, and more. 

Adhering to these regulations will help ensure your tiny house meets the necessary standards.

Rules for temporary tiny houses

Temporary tiny houses, which are often mobile and not intended for year-round living, may have more lenient regulations. 

According to section 4517.01 of the revised motor vehicle code, a "travel trailer" or "house vehicle" is defined as a non-self-propelled recreational vehicle that does not exceed an overall length of forty feet.

This classification often encompasses tiny houses on wheels, but it ultimately hinges on the vehicle's specific specifications. 

Depending on its features, a tiny home on wheels can also fall under the categories of a motor home, mobile home, or park trailer, each governed by distinct sets of regulations. 

This can include meeting size limitations and safety requirements and obtaining appropriate certifications from organizations like NOAH, RVAH, RVIA, or Pacific West.

Consequently, navigating the applicable regulations for temporary tiny houses in Ohio can become somewhat convoluted.

Rules for transitional structures

Transitional structures, such as ADUs, are subject to local zoning ordinances and regulations. It's essential to check with the specific jurisdiction where you plan to build to determine the requirements and restrictions for these types of dwellings.

Unlike other counties in Ohio, Cuyahoga County has specifically allowed accessory dwelling units with proof of the correct permits. 

However, these ADUs cannot be used as primary residences but only as secondary homes.

You may also like: The Versatility of Tiny Houses With Loft.

What Ohio counties allow tiny houses? 

While Ohio's statewide building laws may not explicitly address the permissibility of tiny houses, several counties (88 counties) have embraced the tiny house movement by taking the initiative to amend these laws to accommodate non-traditional housing options. 

These counties recognize the growing interest in tiny homes and have set out specific laws to govern their construction and placement.

The freedom given to individual counties allows them to tailor regulations to meet the specific needs and demands of their communities. 

However, note that regulations can differ significantly between counties. 

Even though some counties have more relaxed regulations towards the construction and permanent placement of tiny houses. others may have stricter regulations or restrictions on where tiny homes can be built.

If you live in Ohio or are planning to start your minimalist living in the “With God, all things are possible” state, it is crucial to research and review the specific regulations of which Ohio counties allow tiny houses in order to make an informed decision about your potential locations.

Can you permanently live in a tiny house in Ohio?

Cozy tiny house
View Grizzly, a cozy tiny house crafted by Great Lakes Tiny Homes

The ability to permanently live in a tiny house in Ohio depends on various factors, including local zoning regulations, building codes, and the classification of your tiny house. 

As mentioned, some areas are lenient to full-time residential living in tiny houses, while others may have limitations or restrictions. 

Researching the specific regulations of your desired location will help determine if permanent residence in a tiny house is feasible.

How tiny can a house be in Ohio?

Ohio is strict on its requirement for a tiny house dimension. The minimum size requirement allowed for houses in Ohio is 950 square feet for permanent structures, and tiny houses are not excluded. 

Temporary tiny homes and ADUs may have lenient size requirements. 

For example, some counties will accept a tiny house covering an area of 500 square feet or less, but it has to be classified as a recreational vehicle.

Where can I build a tiny house in Ohio?

RVIA Certified park model tiny home
Discover Aspen, a 312-square-foot RVIA Certified park model tiny home by Great Lakes Tiny Homes.

Finding suitable locations to build a tiny house in Ohio depends on zoning regulations, property ownership, and other local restrictions. 

You may need to consider factors such as whether the land is zoned for residential use if it allows for accessory dwelling units (ADUs), and any homeowner association (HOA) restrictions. 

Conducting thorough research and consulting with local authorities or professionals can help identify viable locations for your tiny house.

Currently, you can build a tiny house in several of Ohio’s 88 counties.

That said, the following are some counties with favorable laws for those looking to build tiny homes.

Preble County, Ohio

Preble County has taken the initiative to clarify statewide regulations and specifically define a tiny house in order to accommodate renters at Cedar Hill Tiny Village. 

A tiny house, according to their ordinance, is a recreational vehicle that is 500 square feet or less. This benefits those who rent land in the village as well as those who live nearby and want to go tiny.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Cuyahoga County, unlike other counties in Ohio, has expressly permitted accessory dwelling units with proper permits. 

These ADUs, however, cannot be used as primary residences and must only be used as secondary residences.

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is welcoming to tiny homes but outlaws the use of tiny homes as permanent residences entirely. 

The city of Columbus and its surrounding suburbs have building codes and/or zoning regulations that make permanent living in tiny houses illegal. This is because tiny houses are typically built to be smaller than the size allowed by Ohio.

New Paris, Ohio

New Paris is one of Ohio's most tiny house-friendly cities. Mayor Kathy Smallwood proposed to the council in 2021 that a zoning ordinance be enacted to define tiny houses and allow them within city limits.

A tiny home, as defined by the proposed ordinance, is a recreational vehicle of 500 square feet or less that can be used as a permanent single-family dwelling.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland is welcoming to tiny home living; however, Cleveland's laws restrict tiny homeowners. The minimum square footage for any residential home, including tiny houses, is 950 square feet.

Local ordinances have not been developed to combat this rule and account for the smaller size and unique construction requirements of tiny homes.

Do I have to pay property taxes for my tiny house?

The answer to whether you have to pay property taxes for your tiny house depends on its classification and how the state treats it. 

If your tiny house is permanently placed on a foundation, it will likely be subject to local property taxes, just like any other residential property.

However, if your tiny house is on wheels and considered a recreational vehicle (RV), the situation is different. In most states, a tiny house on wheels is classified as an RV, and therefore, it may be subject to personal property taxes instead of traditional property taxes. 

The specific tax requirements for RVs vary from state to state.

Concerning Ohio, it is best to consult with a financial planner or tax professional who is knowledgeable about tiny houses and local tax regulations in Ohio in order to get the most accurate information regarding your tax obligations.  

Where can I park a tiny house on wheels in Ohio?

Finding suitable parking for a tiny house on wheels in Ohio can be challenging due to varying regulations and restrictions in different areas. However, there are several potential options to explore:

Campgrounds and RV Parks: Many campgrounds and RV parks offer long-term rentals and amenities suitable for tiny house living. It's essential to call ahead and confirm if they allow tiny homes to park.

Federal land

Certain federal lands, particularly National Forest lands, permit dispersed camping, allowing you to park and camp for free in undeveloped areas. Contact local parks offices or ranger stations for recommendations and guidance.

Cities allowing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Some cities in Ohio permit accessory dwelling units, which include tiny houses. This enables you to rent out a driveway or backyard while living in a city. Research local regulations and requirements for ADUs in specific cities.

Tiny house communities

As the tiny house movement grows, dedicated tiny house communities are being established. These communities provide specialized sites for tiny dwellers and often offer unique amenities and features.

Tiny house meetups, forums, and maps

Online forums, community-hosted maps, and local meetup groups can be valuable resources for finding tiny house parking. 

These platforms allow you to connect with others in the tiny house community who can provide information on available parking spaces or recommend tiny-friendly locations.

Can I build and put a tiny house in my backyard in Ohio?

The ability to build and place a tiny house in your backyard in Ohio depends on local zoning ordinances and regulations. 

Some areas may allow backyard ADUs or have specific provisions for tiny houses. 

In contrast, others may have restrictions or prohibit such structures because constructing a second residence on the same property would change the use from single-family use to multifamily.

To determine if you can build and put a tiny house in my backyard in Ohio, we recommend checking with local authorities or zoning departments to see if they will approve the zoning and building permit.

How much does it cost to build a Tiny House in Ohio?

The cost of building a tiny house in Ohio can vary greatly depending on factors such as the size, design, materials used, and desired amenities. Plan to spend between $40,000 – $130,000.

However, to establish an accurate budget based on your specific requirements, it is best to consult with professionals or builders.

Are there tiny home communities in Ohio?

Due to the increasing popularity of tin homes in Ohio, a few tiny home communities and social groups exist. Two such communities are discussed below. 

Cedar Springs Tiny Village

Cedar Springs Tiny Village is the pioneering tiny living community in Ohio! 

This unique community consists of resident-owned tiny homes, following the BYOTH (bring your own tiny house) concept. However, Cedar Springs leases or rents out the plots to homeowners who wish to embrace the tiny house lifestyle.

For lakefront sites, the monthly fee is $441 for lease periods of 13 months or longer, with slightly higher rates for shorter-term rentals. This all-inclusive fee covers essential amenities such as water, sewer, trash, and recycling services, as well as grounds maintenance, including mowing. 

Cedar Springs warmly welcomes pets, subject to approval, as long as they reside within the tiny houses. They accept all certified THOW builds certified by NOAH, RVAH, RVIA, or Pacific West.

Living in Cedar Springs Tiny Village comes with numerous privileges that enhance your overall quality of life. 

Located in New Paris, Ohio, the community experiences the full range of seasons, from warm summers to vibrant fall farmers markets, stunning springs, and picturesque snowy winters that offer activities like sledding and snow tubing.

The rental plots are conveniently situated just a short stroll away from Natural Springs Resort, where day and seasonal passes grant access to an array of recreational activities such as swimming, beach outings, fishing, and even scuba diving. 

Furthermore, within walking distance at the north end of the tiny home community, residents can enjoy the convenience of The Cedar, a local coffee shop.

The Midwest Virtual Stoa Meetup Group

The Midwest Virtual Stoa Meetup group is a  tiny living social group for tiny living enthusiasts. 

They connect virtually every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST. 

The meeting theme of discussion centers around studying the modern practice of stoicism, gaining knowledge on minimalism and stoicism, and about ways to live more intentionally.

Takeaway: Learn the key tiny house rules in Ohio before moving into one

Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding tiny houses in Ohio is vital for anyone considering living in or building a tiny house in the state. 

By familiarizing yourself with Ohio's tiny home regulations, you can ensure compliance, make informed decisions, and avoid potential setbacks. 

Remember to research local zoning ordinances, building codes, and county allowances and consult with professionals or local authorities for specific guidance. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can confidently embark on your tiny house journey in Ohio.

Ready to begin your journey on the minimalistic lifestyle? Check out our comprehensive guide on: Budgeting and Financing Your Tiny House Construction Project.

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